There are many inter-linked issues in the whole data value chain that affect the ability of farmers, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, to access, use and harness the benefit of data and data-driven technologies.
There are policy issues (decisions on making data open and prioritizing types of data to open up to investment decisions); technical issues (availability and accessibility of the necessary data for the development of added-value services and tools that process data and make it usable for different purposes and stakeholders); ethical and legal issues (both farmers having access to data and farmers sharing their data with others); as well as issues related with the capacity of stakeholders, particularly resource poor-farmers, to find and use agricultural data for their own benefit.
Of all the issues, the ethical and legal aspects related to accessing and using data by farmers and sharing farmers’ data have been the least explored. Also in the area of policy, the focus is normally on public institutions’ policies on the sharing of their own data, while policy issues related to ethics and equitability of open data access and use, as they apply to resource poor farmers have rarely been put at the center of the stage.
For this reason, the Global Forum on Agricultural Research and Innovation (GFAR), the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition initiative (GODAN) and the Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) started a consultation process, convening first an online consultation (4-8 June 2018) and then this face-to-face international expert consultation on ethical, legal and policy aspects of data sharing affecting farmers (10-11 July 2018), bringing together experts from a range of different stakeholder groups and perspectives.
The expert meeting was hosted by the German Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE) and supported by the Kuratorium für Technik und Bauwesen in der Landwirtschaft (KTBL).
The objective of the meeting was to have an initial vision and proposed next steps for a collective action on enabling farmers to harness the power of data-driven agriculture. Participants started writing during the meeting and are now consolidating the documents. A final vision and action plan should be available by mid-Septemer.